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Should Los Gatos Gun Retailer Templar Sports' Permit Be Granted?

Owners could be forced to pay up to $96,000 for late filing fee; Police Chief Scott Seaman and Los Gatos Director of Community Development Sandy L. Baily recommend approval.

Templar Sports is a firearms retailer in Los Gatos located at 611 University Ave. Photo by Sheila Sanchez
Templar Sports is a firearms retailer in Los Gatos located at 611 University Ave. Photo by Sheila Sanchez
Should Los Gatos gun retailer Templar Sports' one-year dealer permit application be granted?

That's the question coming before the Los Gatos Town Council Tuesday evening when controversial business owner, Robert Chang, appears before the body to request the permit.

Chang must obtain the permit to fulfill a requirement of an ordinance passed last year regulating the sales of weapons in town, which mandates Templar Sports' operations, 611 University Ave., be reviewed on a yearly basis to continue doing business in Los Gatos.

In response to public concerns regarding Templar Sports' opening in late 2012 and the lack of any existing local regulations regarding the sale of firearms, the Council in February 2013 unanimously adopted a new firearms dealer regulatory permitting process similar to one used by other jurisdictions in California. 

A Council ad-hoc committee consisting of Los Gatos Council members Joe Pirzynski and Marcia Jensen in April of 2013 worked with Town staff on the proposed ordinance.

The committee reported to the Council on June 17, 2013 and on Aug. 5, 2013, and the Council adopted an ordinance establishing a new regulatory permit process for firearms sellers in town.

The ordinance went into effect on Sept. 5, 2013. Therefore, Templar Sports was required to file an application no later than Nov. 4, 2013. 

In general, the firearms dealer regulatory ordinance provides as follows:

  • Requires all firearms sellers to obtain a permit from the Town of Los Gatos; 
  • Establishes minimum requirements and standards for obtaining such a permit, including verification of required state and federal licenses and certificates, a criminal history check of owners and employees, security measures, and verification of insurance;
  • Provides a public hearing process for the initial permit and annual renewals; 
  • Establishes grounds for suspension or revocation of an existing permit 

Templar Sports filed its permit application on Dec. 6, 2013.

As is the town's normal process for other permit applications, staff responded to the applicant in writing noting the application deficiencies and additional information required, according to a staff report.

Responses to the application deficiencies and information requests were submitted on Jan. 14.

One original and three copies of the application are required pursuant to Town Code. Whereas the applicant did submit the requisite copies of the original application, additional copies were not provided for the subsequent submittal, so the applicant was charged and has paid for the town's copying costs of the subsequent submittal, the report said. 

Los Gatos/Monte Sereno Police Chief Scott Seaman and Los Gatos Director of Community Development Sandy L. Baily are required to conduct an investigation as each deems appropriate to determine whether a firearms dealer regulatory permit should be issued subject to the standard specified by ordinance, the report said.

Following the completion of the investigations, Seaman and Baily then each make a recommendation to Town Manager Greg Larson whether the requested permit is recommended to be approved or rejected.

Chief Seaman and Baily have recommended that the permit be approved and there appear to be no grounds for denial as the business has all required state and federal licenses in place and no records have been found that would grant for the permit's revocation and no firearms offenses have been made by any of its employees or owners, the report stated.

Templar Sports has even agreed to enter into a written agreement to "indemnify, defend and hold harmless the town, its officers, agents and employees from and against all claims, losses, costs, damages and liabilities of any kind pursuant to the operation of the business, including attorney' s fees, arising in any manner out of the negligence or intentional or willful misconduct," the report stated.

However, town staff said in the report that Templar Sports filed its regulatory permit application 32 days late and that its representatives explained that the late filing resulted from their interpretation of the filing deadline which was inaccurately counted from the days after the approval of the firearms dealers land use regulations, adopted on Oct. 7, 2013, rather than after the effective date of the regulatory permit requirements.

Although town staff has not typically assessed late filing fees for development applications, the new regulatory permit ordinance does provide for the assessment of penalties of up to $1,000 per day per violation.

That means should the Council determine to assess penalties in this instance, Templar Sports' three owners could each pay up to $32,000 for the late filing fee, for a total of $96,000.

Town staff is also recommending that the business meet the following conditions as part of their permit's approval: 

  • Payment of any penalty imposed by the Council for the late submission of the firearms dealer regulatory permit application
  • Prohibition on the manufacture or sales of destructive devices, ammunition for destructive devices, or armor piercing ammunition
  • Prohibition on the employment of any individuals convicted of any offense involving the manufacture, sale, possession or use of a controlled substance
  • Requirement to submit the annual renewal application for the firearms dealer regulatory permit by Nov. 1 of each year. 

A memo from Chief Seaman found in the staff report said the department received the permit application from Templar Sports on Dec. 6 and that it provided the names and identifying information for 10 employees and two principal owners.

Los Gatos resident Linda Swenberg has written a letter to town staff supporting the business: "We're in full support of Templar Sports. They are a clean, friendly business [that] offers a much-needed service in our town. I'm sick and tired of going to other stores in other towns in sketchy locations. Those other stores are dark, dirty and the staff comport themselves discourteously.

"Templar Sports is a refreshing change from that and I would rather support a local business. I hope you don't drive them out of town. Two of my children attend a dance studio very near to Templar and we see no change in the area since the store opened and see no benefit to moving them across the street.

"This entire process that the town council has chosen to take is completely illogical and shameful I don't see how you can put conditions on a business after you have allowed them to open and they have done nothing wrong," Swenberg wrote. 

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Marilyn Leonard January 20, 2014 at 04:09 PM
Businesses that present a potential danger to the community should be reviewed more closely than other businesses.
Thomas Kouns January 20, 2014 at 04:18 PM
When someone owns a gun, the odds go up astronomically that the gun will be used on a member of your family versus any outside threat. Just because the Constitution says we have a right to have arms (we had slavery too & women couldn't vote either 300 years ago) doesn't mean it's right and or makes sense....
old neighbor dude January 20, 2014 at 04:34 PM
Hey Thomas, if you don't think owning a gun is a good idea why don't you put a sign up in front of your house stating so?
Jess B. Guy January 20, 2014 at 04:52 PM
Marilyn is on to something. Every store that sells liquor should also be reviewed more closely than others. Especially those that have "happy hour", "ladies night", wine tasting, play-off events, St. Patricks Day, etc. Thomas...300 years ago we were a British colony, ruled by a King. Concord and Lexington happened because the King's soldiers were coming for the colonists' arms. Disarm the populace,,,,you rule them. That's a slap shot response to your Constitutional statement - obviously the issue goes deeper than short comments in a post. We had Prohibition also - saved a lot of lives, didn't it. Further, your comment about odds and family dangers is not based on fact. Your odds of death or injury to family members is "astronomical" if you own a swimming pool. I agree that firearms ownership bears a heavy responsibility, one which some firearm's owners have neglected. We all need to address those issues rather than parrot old cliches. Templar has not violated any ordinance, federal, state, or local. If the Town Council uses the fine as a hammer to attack Templar it would be contemptible. This is the same council which has outlawed nail guns, soda bottles, and pressure cookers by its misguided, inaccurate, and knee jerk firearms' regulations.
Bob Rosenthal January 20, 2014 at 09:29 PM
Well then, in my opinion every establishment that sells liquor, which is a health problem and poses a threat to my safety and well being every time a drunk gets behind the wheel of an automobile, should go through the same process as Templar sports. Otherwise, in my opinion, there is a stench of discrimination against one business going on. Templar went through all the necessary steps and was allowed to open their business in town, in an area which I believe was zoned light industrial. Then, as an afterthought, the area was rezoned and Templar was considered non-compliant. Yet they could move across the street and be compliant. Have you ever been to the wharf in Santa Cruz on a hot day when all the fishermen are out and about? This has the same smell to it, only worse. Just my opinion.
Bonnie Coburn January 21, 2014 at 11:23 AM
Leave Templar Sports alone! How dare you change the rules after they move in and then harass and nitpick them to death! Shame on you. This is unacceptable behavior on the part of our town!
James George January 21, 2014 at 12:16 PM
Grant Templar their permit without penalty. These are local folks with a legitimate business, run in an exemplary manner.
Eric C January 21, 2014 at 12:35 PM
I think the permit should be approved, but if they didn't follow the procedure, they should be penalized something, just like anyone else would be. I would suggest something nominal, $500? With all that's gone on regarding this business, they should have been communicating with staff more closely to clarify things. and, seriously, the town should have been communicating with them and asking where their permit request was...
Randal Villata January 21, 2014 at 02:01 PM
It is a perfectly legal business. If i cannot shop at Templar, i will not shop in Los Gato at all. If this is what LG has come to, i am glad i moved out.
old neighbor dude January 21, 2014 at 03:37 PM
Randal, word up to that. Vote and speak with your dollars!
Jonas January 21, 2014 at 05:27 PM
@Marilyn - So, all drinking establishments, auto dealers, hard ware stores, etc., etc. - basically any place that sells something that could be weaponized or otherwise used for nefarious purposes, or might cause accidental injury or death through neglect, recklessness, or plain stupidity? Firearms dealers are already subject to more stringent requirements on many levels. You need to know what you're talking about. @Thomas - Yet another person that misunderstands history or the intent of the 2nd Amendment, and plain FACT. We never had the internet or the threat of Islamic extremism at the time tyne Constitution was written - should we ban Islam and the internet since both can be perverted and used for violence and criminal purposes? We couldn't predict this. Maybe the 1st Amendment is outdated too? Is that what you're getting at? You can be the lemming that relies on Big Brother to care for you and protect you. I'll be a man and protect my own family when and if that time comes. Hopefully it won't, but for many it does. Your "stat" on gun owners having guns turned on them or otherwise occupant guns being used on the occupants is misleading as well. Plus, you're also more likely to be in a traffic accident if you buy and drive a car. More drivers = more potential for accidents and fatalities on the road. BAN CARS? @Randall - I'm with you - in fact, Templar is the ONLY business in LG that gets my money now. Join me in sending letters to other business owners in LG explaining why they will never see my money ever again - the unfair, emotionally-driven treatment of Templar.
John Q Public January 21, 2014 at 06:52 PM
Even FOX NEWS reports that owning a gun increases the risk of suicide and murder several fold. http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/01/21/gun-ownership-tied-to-three-fold-increase-in-suicide-risk/
SunTzu January 21, 2014 at 07:53 PM
The Los Gatos City Counsel should pay close attention to a recent court ruling in Illinois that struck down an ordnance prohibiting gun stores in Chicago. The court found that the prohibiting "legal buyers and legal dealers from engaging in lawful acquisitions and lawful sales of firearms" violated the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms for self-defense. If they do end up kicking Templar out, I hope the town has money saved up to pay for both its attorney's fees and those of Templar because their ex post facto permitting process is clearly an attempt to ban gun sales in Los Gatos.
Linda S January 21, 2014 at 08:03 PM
Honestly, the issue here is to what extent should the TOWN be regulating this business. There are other establishments in our town that sell items which are highly regulated by the state and federal governments. One that comes to mind are the various prescription pharmacies in town. Why hasn't the town decided to regulate them? Has the state and federal government done such an exemplary job that there are no crimes or injuries associated with prescription medicines? As far as the fines go, I believe that it was unreasonable for the town to expect the business to be prepared to submit an application on such a short notice. In future years, they will have a year to prepare. In this case, they only had weeks. The late submission appears to have been an honest mistake in any case. What an incredible burden. I really wish I could have gone to the meeting on August 5 to oppose the new application requirement in person, but I was out of town.
Jonas January 21, 2014 at 08:17 PM
@John Q. Public - "EVEN" Fox News? What does that mean? And so what? Did you know that the Japanese have a higher suicide rate than we here in the USA? WITHOUT GUNS. So your point is meaningless - if somebody wished to do themselves harm, they will do so. People jump in front of trains in the Bay Area too and get killed in auto accidents quite regularly. @Sun Tzu - BINGO. The city of Los Gatos, at cost to the tax payers, runs great risk of being sued. Take a look at Sunnyvale, albeit, different issue - but LG is going down that road too, or so it might seem. GOOD. The city deserves to be HIT HARD in the wallet. Are you ready citizens? I'm sure there is nothing better on which to send your tax dollars.....
Dajon DeRyke January 21, 2014 at 10:21 PM
Absolutely!!
John Q Public January 22, 2014 at 03:07 AM
@Jonas - OK, since you don't understand, I will explain it for you in simple terms. As we all know, Fox News is more opinion than fact and is a mouthpiece for the far right. They claim to be "Fair and Balanced" but are anything but. However in this case, they are actually citing FACTS, such as households with guns have more murders and suicides than those without guns. The "so what" part is that with this information people can make an informed decision when considering the purchase of a gun. And I can see that you are likely a Fox subscriber in the way you are quick to point out that Japan has a higher per capita suicide rate than the US (by 1.8 times), but fail to note that the US has 15 TIMES the MURDER rate as does Japan. And yes, guns are used in 68% of those murders in the US. Please do not blindly dismiss the dangers of gun ownership here by diverting attention to automobile accidents or suicide rates in Japan. There are also cultural differences at work here making suicide traditionally more acceptable in Japan.
Jonas January 22, 2014 at 12:13 PM
@John Q. Lefty - I must just PISS you off that Fox actually reports news stories that none of the other media outlets will discuss, at least not in any detail, significance, or length. You should applaud the FACT that their an alternative voice out there - that DOES report the NEWS far more fairly than any of the other cable networks. I'm not talking about local news channels, though many of those, as well as the major networks tend to lean left. You probably don't see that. Unlike you though, I actually pay attention to multiple "news" sources to get the different perspectives, leanings, biases - whatever you want to call them. You just get your talking points form the likes of Stewart and Colbert I'd imagine. And what you FAIL to also mention - as you on the left ALWAYS conveniently do - is cite the full breadth of the facts in that an estimated 80-90% of the murders in the U.S. are in fact committed by gangs engaged in already illegal activities - don't believe me? Contact the SCC Crime Lab that is actually involved in firearms-related crimes in our county and get the data from them. Or the FBI. Or the US DOJ. And don't EVEN try to lecture me on Japan or the culture there. I used to live there. You're right - they do not suffer the social ills that we do, thanks to homogeneity that lends itself very well to the group mindset. They do not have a nanny state like we do, suffer from political correctness, illegal immigration, drugs, gangs...and the list goes on forever. And as far as the socially more acceptable aspect of suicide in modern Japan? You don't know what you're talking about. I don't blindly dismiss the dangers of anything - but you also cannot merely play off the FACT that if you drive, you are more likely to be killed in a car accident. It's NOT apples and oranges as would like to believe. So OF COURSE - there are going to be more gun deaths when there are more guns - accidents happen, criminals steal guns and use them in the commissions of crimes, and yes - people commit suicide. If there are no guns - there will be no gun deaths. TRUE. And if there were no cars, there'd be no car-realted accidents or fatalities either. Better yet, no booze - no drunk drivers. (Lots of drunk drivers in Japan by the way, saw my fair share....) But what I can tell you - there is no danger in MY firearm ownership, but I am a responsible owner, well-trained and versed in safety and handling (as are all of the members of my family), and I store them safely. No children have access at any time. This is common sense to me. No, it isn't for everyone, so yes - bad things WILL happen. What do you want to do about it? DO you want to ban and subsequently confiscate firearms from every household in the nation? Do you think that will STOP gun violence or murder? Do you think THAT will stop suicide? Of course not. Why don't you just come out and say it - you HATE guns, you HATE that we have the freedom to own them, you FEAR them, you want the state to make it all perfect for you and take care of you. You want only the state to be armed. What are you really saying? I mean, if you are really concerned about firearms in the home being turned against their owners - then DON'T BUY ONE. That's you're right. But don't tell me how to exercise mine, and don't you dare try to curtail my rights. I make the decisions with my family on how we choose to protect ourselves, I don't need your help, or misinformed advice.
SunTzu January 22, 2014 at 02:47 PM
People like John Q are hypocrites. They rip on "Faux News" for reporting stories with facts they don't like, but are happy to tout it when Fox reports a story which supports their liberal views. In reality Fox is not very conservative. Rather, it just doesn't have anyone high up there that is related to someone working in the current administration, so it doesn't carry their water. http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/w/White-House-Media-Relations-052013.htm#.UuAfMrTTm71 http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Journalism/2013/09/07/mainstream-media-honchos-related-towhite-house-officials http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2013/05/11/fox-abc-and-cbs-news-presidents-have-siblings-working-white-house-tie
Dave M January 24, 2014 at 07:07 PM
Simple economics will decide whether or not this business is viable in THIS neighborhood. If this business is successful in it's current location, then it is a win/win for the town, the owners of the business, and <gasp!> the law-abiding customers who purchased equipment here. If there is insufficient business, Templar fails and the owner of the building gets to find a new tenant, and the protestors can gloat about how out of place the store was. At that point the Town will have the challenge of overcoming the heavy-handed, unfriendly way they approached this issue. As far as I can tell, they have done nothing wrong aside from withholding forms and filing beyond a deadline while they waded through (and waited for) more bureaucratic red tape than any other business in town. They will pay the assessed fines and move forward, legally. On the other hand, a woman who threatened town officials, and was issued a restraining order against her to protect them, lied on her Federal application and illegally purchased a firearm from this store (even though Templar completed ALL of the proper paperwork and reporting requirements). She was reportedly not charged for this (felony?) attempt of a prohibited person to purchase a gun. The restraining order was not a class filed with the DOJ and did not show up on the NICS background check, yet I read comments where people actually blamed the store, not the criminal individual. To allow her to go on unpunished is clearly a law-enforcement issue, not a gun store issue. But if she were to (illegally!) buy another gun and 'go Columbine' on the public, these same people would surely revert to blaming the store, and it's gun-nut customers for their "complicity". Truly mindboggling jumps in logic.
Jonas January 25, 2014 at 11:00 AM
The truth is, as much as the left-wing wants to push background checks (and I'm O.K. with background checks WITHOUT registration of any kind) - they really don't do much good. Sure, they keep a very small, prohibited minority for making a LEGAL purchase - BUT only a FRACTION of these people that attempt to knowingly buy a gun AS a prohibited person are pursued and charged by the gubment. In the grand scheme of things, this is not important to them - if it was, it'd be more actionable. But this in and of itself is NOT a gun control issue or method. Killing a gun store is. It's not about, nor has it ever been about safety in the minds of officials and politicians - it is about pushing a greater agenda of control. The hapless foot soldiers (useless idiots), or protestors to put it another way - are the only ones deluded into believing it is about public safety.

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